When looking at my monthly bills, I was appalled to realize my 2nd highest bill (behind rent) was our cable tv - it was a bundle package, so I was repeatedly told it would save me $$ to get my DSL Internet, cable & landline phone all in one package....but this package costs about $140/month. We simply can't live without tv and Internet, I always reasoned. We use the Internet all the time for the kids education and my CM time! We are always watching programs on cable channels like the History Channel, Science Channel, etc. so for the longest time I rationalized the outrageous cost. But NO MORE! I've finally found a cheaper alternative.
One time Cost:
Roku Box - from $49up
Converter Box - (about) $40
DSL Internet - $19
Netflix - $8.99
total = ~$35
so for those us you not in the know. You can get a digital converter box for about $40, this enables you to watch free tv programming on basic local channels (like ABC, NBC, etc), the Roku is a box that enables you to use online streaming through things like Netflix, Amazon Prime, HULU+, etc....so for a one time fee of about $100 to get the equipment, and monthly fees that will save me about $100/month, we can still watch most of our favorite shows,movies, news programs, etc.
With the streaming, you no longer have the ease of your favorite channels or time guides. You instead have to search out each individual show through the different interfaces. Shows from cable channels like HBO & Showtime are not always included in your monthly package but can cost additional fees. (But since we didn't have those channels to start with I didn't factor that into our decision). Also, if you live far from major cities, you'd also probably need to factor in the cost of an antennae to view the basic local channels, but these cost less than $10. Also, in some areas, bad weather can interrupt the basic programming signals. Lastly, there is a delay in the programming - so you won't necessarily see the newest episodes for a few days after they aired on cable channels.
The monthly savings can add up quick, and with some of the fancier Roku boxes, it acts as a sort of Wii system, so it can even include games for the kids. Since it is a streaming interface, you can watch movies downloaded on your computer, like those from YouTube, or your digital camera. And you can get apps for music channels like Pandora. Also, you arent restricted to whichever re-run the channel has scheduled. youcan choose to watch any episode from any previous season at any time youd like. if you were already an Amazon Prime member, then you get even more free programs availabe as well. So once you get used to the different programming, it gets easier.
the point of all this? There are creative ways to cut back on even those bills you deem 'essentials'. If you have an essential gym membership, perhaps you can offer to work in the daycare a couple of days a week to decrease your fee. If you live in an apartment, maybe you could offer to be the one in charge of building maintenance, etc. get creative!